Re: The Status of Memetics as a Science

From: Trupeljak Ozren (
Date: Tue Apr 24 2001 - 06:46:35 BST

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    Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 22:46:35 -0700 (PDT)
    From: Trupeljak Ozren <>
    Subject: Re: The Status of Memetics as a Science
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    this is a long one! :)

    --- Kenneth Van Oost <> wrote:
    > From: Trupeljak Ozren <>
    > To: <>
    > Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2001 8:43 PM
    > Subject: Re: The Status of Memetics as a Science
    > Hi Trupeljak, you wrote,
    > > Why would the release of knowledge of "meme-engineering" lead to
    > > greater diversity of existant memes? Well, from the simple fact
    > that
    > > you would have many more nodes of replication that would mutate
    > memes
    > > on purpose, not just by accident or "flashes of inspiration", and
    > with
    > > far more knowledge of what the results might be.
    > Indeed, you would have more engineered memes for all the good causes
    > you want, nomore accidents and with far more knowledge of what the
    > result might be.
    > In a way we discussed this on the thread ' Determinism ', where I
    > argumen-
    > tated that reducing any kind of choise reduces freedom and therefor
    > we
    > gonna get in trouble with some ethical aspects of the problem.
    > I am gonna do here just the same, I understand that replicating memes
    > for
    > the good cause is a honorable thing to do, but IMO you will destroy
    > in the
    > same process the genetic and memetical differences which do exist be-
    > tween and among people.
    > You will destroy, in the name of what kind result you want to obtain,
    > certain amounts of " human quality "_ intentionality is one, free
    > will and
    > spontaneity are others.

    I agree with your views. If you look closely what I have written,
    though, you will notice that I never state that the engineered memes
    should in any way be classified as either "good" or "bad". I just
    wanted to imply that more constructed memes of any kind whatsoever,
    immediately increase diversity, and thus make the whole system work
    "better" in a sense that it is more robust, more resistant to pandemics
    of potentialy disastrous consequences (for example, the whole pandemic
    of ideas behind the Cold War that nearly caused mass extinction of life
    on this planet, through a nuclear war). I find fanaticism as valuable
    part of our human "memetic" diversity as altruism, and am sure both
    have developed because they conferred *some* advantage to its
    propagators. Why then would I want to arbitrarily (or even worse,
    following some memetic construct of ethics!) choose which ones should
    propagate and which ones should not?

    > You make of meme- engineering and the replication of mutated memes
    > a quantative factor where IMO it has to be a qualitative one.

    If you believe in one of the first postulates, that memes evolved, then
    greater quantity means greater quality, after a certain period of time.
    > > In a way, by being exposed to more, and better crafted,
    > > memes, we can raise the immunity to truly virulent ones just by
    > > constant exposure. Fanaticism of any kind might become a rather
    > small
    > > and isolated phenomenon, unlike today...that might be good. :)
    > << Indeed again, but from my point of view not very ethical !
    > In a way is this ethically a sound argument !? To reduce fanaticism
    > might
    > be good, but again from my individual point of view that would lead
    > to
    > a more ideological structure of society.
    > You say it yourself in the next paragraph,and you do make here a
    > point,
    > and I like this view, but if we should, and we must, accept the
    > principles
    > of evolution as our ethical system, than we include also our
    > genetical and
    > memetical design and that is a very good thing to do.

    As I said, whatever memetic structures survive the initial explosion of
    population, are "good" by the ethics of evolution.
    > In a way, by not using the principles of evolution as our ethical
    > system,
    > you deny people their birthrights, whatever they may be and whatever
    > kind of behavior they include !!

    In a way, yes. It is a very general statement, though.

    > Of course, and I do understand, we can 't let people running loose
    > who
    > will commit murder every time they see a good looking female passing
    > by. So, in order to solve the problem, I already suggested on this
    > list,possible solutions like Holodeck- technology and cyber dolls
    > like Kyoto
    > Date and
    > Lara Croft to act as substitutes for the real thing. And there again,
    > specific
    > problems have to be dealt with.

    Well, one could also go all the way out with natural selection and just
    give people the right to carry guns, and the right to duel. :)

    > Another possibility is the launch of " sensitive campagnes " whereby
    > information is supplied to the public concerning those problems we'
    > ll
    > have to solve. This demands a greater linkage of the public to the
    > society they are living in, mush more than nowadays, and again in
    > this
    > we' ll be confronted with specific problems.

    It supposes that general public *is* interested in solving the
    problems. It doesn't seem that way to me; but then again, US is

    > Memetics can help, on the one hand you can change people by affecting
    > their perceptions ( and than you will be confronted by the ethical
    > aspects
    > of the problem) and on the other hand you can change the technology
    > by which memes of that kind get distributated. Again, ethics are just
    > around the corner.

    What do you mean, what kind of ethical problems? Just make the
    knowledge widely available, and whoever chooses to use it is free to do
    just that, and whoever doesn't, well tough luck...

    > IMO, you have to deal with the following,
    > If you want a certain stability in your society you can accomplish
    > that in
    > two ways,
    > 1) by force and you will have no problem with ethics whatsoever, or
    > 2) by linking principles of evolution, genetic and memetic, to our
    > ethical system.

    You lost me there. I don't see why you would have only these two

    > If you choose for the last, and I think you do, ethics will be always
    > around.
    > And than, IMO, you have to leave fanaticism where it is at, the only
    > thing
    > you can do is to change people's perception and that is anyway a
    > process
    > which will take a long time....

    Again, fanatics are just fine with me, as I could very easily count
    myself in that same group, if I look from another's viewpoint. Ethics
    are such a vague and culturaly-dependant concept that I find the word
    very misleading. Whatever works, seems to be the ethics policy that
    Universe adopted, and I tend to follow that...

    > Best,
    > Kenneth
    > ( I am, because we are) complex systems

    True (in a very simple way ;)

    There are very few man - and they are exceptions - who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.

    Carl von Clausewitz

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